Letters to the Editor

Letter: Not just semantics

January 21, 2015


To the editor:

Titles from Sunday’s front-page, “Quakes linked to fracking; now what?” and online, “Kansas quakes likely caused by oil and gas fracking process” are inaccurate, and it is not just a matter of semantics. A correct headline would be “Kansas quakes likely caused by saltwater disposal process.” To solve any scientific problem, it must first be defined in a technically precise manner. Otherwise the investigative process becomes muddled and inefficient. The probable root of the increased earthquake activity is the disposal of much larger volumes of saltwater than in the past, not hydraulic fracturing (fracking) — period!

The reporter got it right in stating that scientific studies in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas concluded that “temblors were likely the result of injecting saltwater into disposal wells” and in quoting Rick Miller, Kansas Geological Survey senior scientist, “there is a strong correlation between the disposal of saltwater and the earthquakes.” Horizontal wells with multi-stage hydraulic fractures (technologically new to Kansas) produce much larger quantities of both oil and saltwater than vertical wells. Saltwater is disposed into other wells, as in the past, but in much larger quantities than in pre-horizontal well days.

It would behoove us all to be truthful and accurate in framing the issue. We should also encourage public and industry scientists to quickly determine how (or whether) we can minimize earthquakes by either modifying the saltwater disposal process or by reducing the volume of water produced (and injected).


Ken Lassman 2 years, 12 months ago

Given the integral nature of the saltwater disposal process to the fracking process, it is an understandable that some people who are "lumpers" connect the two processes, just as it is justifiable to distinguish between the two as do the "splitters." Now that we've distinguished the two, though, the question remains: what, if any, are the economical alternatives to gravity injection wells to deal with the volumes of saltwater that are currently generated by the horizontal fracking process? I think a followup article on what is being explored/developed would be useful journalism.

Duane Buscher 2 years, 12 months ago

Dear Paid Koch Mouthpiece,

It is just semantics though, isn't it? An even more correct headline would be “Kansas quakes likely caused by saltwater disposal process from fracking.”

You even undermined your premise by pointing out that fracking is the reason for the increased amount of saltwater waste that needs to be disposed.

STOP FRACKING and you have less saltwater to dispose of and thus LESS EARTHQUAKES!

So I guess thanks for proving that the LJW headlines were indeed semantically correct.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 12 months ago

"STOP FRACKING and you have less saltwater to dispose of and thus LESS EARTHQUAKES"

Exactly...... we don't need this oil anyway. We need to be thinking less and less oil NOT billions of barrels more. It is unlikely that this world will operating without any oil however due the the polluting nature of fossil fuels which creates global warming then climate change.

In the meantime how about the focus switch to using less and less oil?

Oil boom towns become eyesores and pockets of economic destruction.

BTW bring the troops home to allow the off shore oil barons to take care of their own business.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 12 months ago

"“Kansas quakes likely caused by oil and gas fracking process” are inaccurate, and it is not just a matter of semantics. A correct headline would be “Kansas quakes likely caused by saltwater disposal process.” "

They wouldn't be doing the saltwater disposal process if they hadn't done fracking, so saying the earthquakes are caused by fracking is correct. The disposal is part of the fracking process. Geez!!!!

Phil Minkin 2 years, 12 months ago

It isn't the fire that causes air pollution, it's the smoke.

Lawrence Freeman 2 years, 12 months ago

So it's a byproduct of the facking process that is the problem? OK, stop fracking, no more by product and problem solved. See how simple that is Martin? If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck it is a duck. And if the duck is flying overhead and takes a dump, it's gravities fault not the ducks when it lands on your head, right?

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 12 months ago

"We should also encourage public and industry scientists "

Industry scientists are already incentivized to NOT admit any correlation between fracking (& consequent disposal of salt water) and earthquakes. Where in Brownback's budget will the $ be to "encourage" such "industry scientists?" How about a $100/barrel excise tax on thie new vice (fracking). Sam the Sham likes taxes on vices.

Joe Blackford II 3 months, 2 weeks ago


as stated by Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association in its March-April 2014 newsletter:

"KIOGA President Edward Cross met with Governor Brownback on February 28th to discuss this and other issues. The Governor said it was not his intent to even infer any correlation between hydraulic fracturing and seismic activity. Despite what the media reports, the task force is not looking at the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and seismic events."


Here's a "bright idea" for 2 problems:

Build pipelines from all those fracking sites to a Western KS desalination plant & pump that water into the Ogallala Aquifer.

"desalination, in fact, is one of the most expensive sources of fresh water. The water sells—depending on site conditions—for between $1,000 and $2,500 per acre-foot (the amount used by two five-person U.S. households per year)."


Nice try on the semantics dodge, by the way. Perhaps KIOGA could publish it in a future newsletter.

James Howlette 2 years, 12 months ago

So which part causes the flaming tap water?

Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 12 months ago

Thank you Martin for this letter. You are of course correct. Since it is the saltwater disposal that is causing the earthquakes hydraulic fracturing should continue, and it is a different approach to getting rid of the saltwater that needs to be done

James Howlette 2 years, 12 months ago

If that step of the fracking process is eliminated, it does not mean that the rest of it should continue. It just means that the part causing earthquakes should definitely stop.

Jim Russo 2 years, 12 months ago

What's interesting about this debate is that earthquakes don't specifically target properties owned by Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. However, given the demographics of Kansas, because there are more people who identify as Republicans, any earthquake is more likely to damage Republican-owned property. If one of the values of the Republican party is property rights, why do they do not advocate some means of protecting their own property? If we do not implement a ban on fracking or quickly find an earthquake-free means of disposing of the waste water, can we at least devise a means of holding frackers financially accountable before damage is done? How about providing earthquake insurance for free to everyone in the state?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 12 months ago

Well, conservative oil people are filing to take over property in Nebraska for the stupid Keystone pipeline using eminent domain. Conservatives really could care less about property rights unless it's their own property.

Jim Russo 2 years, 12 months ago

Then they should care about the possible damage to their property by earthquakes resulting from the disposal of fracking water.

Brock Masters 2 years, 12 months ago

Stop Fracking - don't buy fossil fuel. Pretty simple. Seems hypocritical to complain about Fracking when you're buying the product that it creates.

No demand, no Fracking.

James Howlette 2 years, 12 months ago

Not ALL fuel comes from fracking. While we should just use less fossil fuels in general for multiple reasons, it's not unreasonable to demand that our current sources not cause earthquakes!

Jerry Walker 2 years, 12 months ago

I'm with you James, we should use less fossil fuels. My backyard is large enough to keep a mule and has plenty of room for a carrot patch. Now all I need is a cart, a long pole and some string and I'm well on the way to energy independence.

Jerry Walker 2 years, 12 months ago

And I'm pretty sure that you don't know how to provide transportation with wind, wave and solar power.

James Howlette 2 years, 12 months ago

I'm also pretty sure that both of us said "less" fossil fuels, which can be done with a more fuel efficient car or sharing a ride.

But if you want to provide your transportation through wind, wave, or solar, here you go: http://techcrunch.com/2014/09/24/the-first-four-seater-solar-powered-vehicle-hits-the-u-s-road/


James Howlette 2 years, 12 months ago

I just ride my bike and do a bit of gardening, but whatever floats your boat, dude.

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